The Story: The Florida Board of Pharmacy met last week in an effort to find solutions to the obstacles patients face when accessing legitimately-needed pain medications.
The new rules would downgrade red flags and provide more guidance on ways pharmacists can authorize prescriptions so patients can access the medicine they need.
This is the third meeting the Board has held this year in response to complaints from patients, physicians and pharmacists outlining obstacles to accessing medications that worsened when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) started cracking down on Florida pill mills in 2010.
The Board voted unanimously to approve a proposed rule change that would require all pharmacists to complete a board-approved two- hour continuing education course—“Validation of Prescriptions for Controlled Substances”— which would be inclusive of the 30-hour biennial renewal period. Also, Rule 64B16.27.831, titled “Standards for the dispensing of controlled substances,” would be modified to include language that indicates pharmacists should not fear discipline from the Board for dispensing legitimate prescriptions. The new rules would downgrade red flags and provide more guidance on ways pharmacists can authorize prescriptions so patients can access the medicine they need.
NACDS continues to advocate for legislation (S. 482 and H.R. 471) that would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to work jointly with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and DEA to assess obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, and to identify how collaboration among agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.
This week, the Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote in an editorial covering the Board’s recent vote, “It won’t be easy to strike a perfect balance between preventing deaths from prescription-drug misuse and alleviating unnecessary suffering by patients with a legitimate need for potent medication. But the Board of Pharmacy’s willingness to adjust rules should prompt pharmacies, and patients, to look for ways to alleviate suffering without enabling abuse..” NACDS met with the News-Journal’s editorial board in June as part of a concerted media effort in Florida to heighten awareness about patients who were having difficulty accessing their medications.